S.C. no stranger to downright dirty politics

Mitt Romney campaigns with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, campaigns with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley at The Hall at Senateâ??s End, in Columbia, S.C., Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012.
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

New Hampshire might as well have been a lifetime ago as the Republican presidential race heads to South Carolina, where the weather is warm, the tea is cold and the politics can get downright dirty.

Frontrunner Mitt Romney arrives in the state with a target on his back, telling supporters that "no one's gonna be happy if things are said that are untrue. But I know that's sometimes part of the underbelly of politics."

Nowhere is that more true than in South Carolina, says Jan Crawford.

One example of rough-and-tumble campaigning came in the state's 2000 primary between then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Arizona Sen. John McCain. The race was notorious, with anonymous false accusations that McCain fathered a child out of wedlock. McCain lost the primary and blamed his defeat on the smears.

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"In South Carolina, there is a lot of debate of the issues and a lot of the candidates don't hold back in terms of making contrasts with their opponents," said longtime Republican strategist Charlie Black, who is supporting Romney.

And when they're making contrasts, it seems even the language is more colorful. Texas Gov Rick Perry has been calling Romney a vulture for his work at the investment firm, Bain Capital.

Newt Gingrich also is hitting Romney for his business background and a super PAC supporting him will blanket the airways with negative ads.

But there's some backlash. Many Republicans worry the attacks are playing right into President Barack Obama's hands.

Watch Crawford's full report above.